Surrogate Babies and Legal Disputes: What You Should Know

Carlsbad, CA – Surrogate parenting is becoming more popular with parents who cannot otherwise conceive on their own. However, the controversy surrounding this science-based birthing method is still not without controversy. In fact, some states don’t allow surrogacy parenting at all.

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Surrogacy and California Family Law

The good news for parents who wish to conceive this way is that California happens to be incredibly surrogate-friendly. California has made it not only possible for married couples to become the legal parents of the surrogate children, but anyone can, really, as long as they can prove they’ll be viable parents.

While couples who decide to use surrogacy don’t plan to split or divorce, many couples unfortunately do end up that way. What happens to the surrogacy arrangement after that point depends on a variety of factors.

Forming A Surrogacy Agreement

Couples planning to use a surrogate arrangement to have a child should consider having a California family attorney draw up a Surrogacy Agreement, says John Griffith of family law firm Griffith, Young, and Lass, serving Carlsbad, San Diego and the surrounding areas.

Griffith adds, “A proper agreement that answers all the right questions will protect the couple, surrogate, and child or children that result from the arrangement under a variety of circumstances.”
One of the circumstances Griffith is referring to is, of course, separation and divorce. No one plans to get divorced while also planning a surrogacy arrangement, but these circumstances happen, so they should be adequately planned for.

Griffith points to several questions that can help protect the rights of all involved throughout the surrogate arrangement.

Questions to Ask About the Surrogacy Process

There are a variety of ways that surrogacy can come about. Therefore, the first question that needs to be asked is, “How will be the surrogacy arrangement be carried out?” For instance, will the arrangement involve a traditional or gestational surrogacy?

Traditional Surrogacy

This is the type of surrogate arrangement that involves the intended father’s sperm and natural mother’s egg being fertilized together to make an embryo. This situation usually comes about when the intended mother cannot conceive naturally. The embryo is then implanted into the surrogate to be carried to term. Under California family law, with this type of surrogacy arrangement, the surrogate is providing her own egg, which then makes her the legal mother of the child.

Gestational Surrogacy

When an agreement calls for a gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is not the biological contributor of the egg. Instead, she will act as the carrier of the embryo that is comprised of the father’s sperm and the intended mother’s egg. By implanting the embryo in the surrogate’s uterus via in vitro fertilization, she will then carry the baby to term.

Surrogacy agreements aren’t only for married couples. The state makes it possible for anyone, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation, to become legal parents of the surrogate child before the child is born, and without having to go through traditional adoption channels.

Surrogate Compensation

A pertinent question to ask is whether the surrogate will be compensated for the service she provides or if she will only be paid expenses during the surrogacy process?
As a best resort, the couple should ask this question: What will happen to the child if the relationship doesn’t last? In other words, post-birth adoption alternatives should be considered so that problems don’t arise later on.

Surrogacy Laws in California

As Griffith explains, a surrogacy agreement will protect surrogate and the intended parent(s) in the case of the couple’s divorce. While California doesn’t necessarily have laws on the books that govern surrogacy arrangements specifically, the court has in the past used the statute called the “Uniform Parentage Act.”

In using this law, California courts allow for commercial surrogacy, and regularly reinforce contracts that relate to gestational surrogacy.

Surrogacy Cases You Should Know About

Two cases have set precedence with surrogacy arrangements in California . The first occurred in 1993 when the California Supreme Court ruled in the case Johnson v. Calvert that, where a valid surrogacy agreement exists, the intended parents should be recognized as the legal parents.
In 2005, surrogacy rights were extended to same-sex parents, when the Supreme Court ruled that a child could have two legal mothers listed on the birth certificate.

Legal Disputes and Surrogacy

If you are considering a surrogacy arrangement, if the procedure has been performed, or if the child has already been born, and there are legal disputes regarding compensation and/or rights to the child, call the experienced family law attorneys at Griffith, Young, and Lass for a free consultation at 858-345-1720.

About Griffith, Young, and Lass: The experienced family lawyers at Griffith, Young, and Lass are aggressive and passionate about helping their clients get the fairest outcomes for their cases. Now serving the areas of Vista, San Diego, and Carlsbad, California.

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